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Eye music (Ger. Augenmusik)locked

  • Thurston Dart

Extract

Musical notation with a symbolic meaning that is apparent to the eye but not to the ear (e.g. black notes for words such as ‘darkness’ and ‘death’). Since its effects are derived from notation it is the concern of composers and performers rather than listeners. In eye music the performer derives two simultaneous interpretations from the signs on the page, one purely musical and the other symbolic. In the light of this it is worth listing at the outset certain features that are not really examples of eye music: the use of musical signs for decorative or cryptographic purposes, since their musical significance is thereby completely destroyed; the complicated cross-rhythms of, for example, the English virginalists, designed for the eye rather than for the ear – this use of notation has little or no symbolic meaning; puzzle canons, where the musical meaning becomes apparent only after the symbolism has been unravelled; and the private asides to the player of music by, for example, Satie, for these do not use the signs of musical notation....

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G. Reese: Music in the Renaissance (New York, 1954, 2/1959)
Zeitschrift der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft